FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas took two games against Ball State last weekend with small ball. The Razorbacks have taken two from Troy this weekend with the long ball.
Arkansas (4-1) hit three home runs for the second consecutive day against the Trojans in a 10-8 win at Baum Stadium.
Andy Wilkins' two-run home run and Brett Eibner's three-run home run in the third inning gave Arkansas a 7-2 lead. Wilkins' blast cleared the 80-foot batter's eye at the 400-foot mark in center field.
Zack Cox later added a two-run home run in the fourth inning to give the Razorbacks a 9-4 lead.
"I think the team played a great game today," Cox said. "We all came out and hit. Wilkins hit one over the hitter's eye. I think he should just know if he hits the hitter's eye it's still a home run; he doesn't have to hit it over it.
"We're getting our timing down. We're not just a power team because we can bunt, we can run, we've stolen bases and drag bunted. Drag bunts have gotten our innings going and all of a sudden we hit a home run and it's a big inning."
Arkansas was also able to use great defense in the win. Tim Carver made a pair of outstanding defensive plays from his spot at second base in the seventh and eighth innings. On the latter play Carver made a diving stop his left, spun around and threw out the runner at first.
Troy second baseman T.J. Rivera hit his second home run of the day in the next at-bat off reliever DJ Baxendale.
"The ball was heading toward right field and he makes a play and throws him out," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "The next guy hit a home run, so who knows what kind of inning they could have had there? Defense wins you a lot of games and he made two outstanding plays. I thought both middle infielders did a great job today."
A day after Razorback pitching held the Trojans to one run, Troy's bats got hot Saturday, scoring eight runs and hitting four home runs. Troy entered the series averaging just under 14 runs per game.
Two of those homers came off winning pitcher Jeremy Heatley. Heatley entered the game in the fifth inning and gave up home runs to the first two batters he faced in Blake Martz and Chase Whitley.
Heatley (1-0) settled down after, however, allowing no more hits in three innings of work and striking out two batters. Baxendale pitched the final two innings, earning the first save of his career.
"I think it's good to play close games and be tested and have a chance to see how guys handle it," Van Horn said. "I thought Heatley settled in well after he gave up a couple of hits coming out of the pen. He got through the sixth and the seventh and then we put DJ in there against basically the middle of the order to hold onto the lead in the ninth and he did a great job. It was a pretty well played game. We misplayed a couple of balls in the outfield because of the wind and that's something we can't have happen, but other than that it was good."
In his first start of the year Drew Smyly went four innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits. The redshirt sophomore left-hander struck out eight batters.
"He was just OK," Van Horn said. "He was a little inconsistent with his fastball. He left it down the middle too much. He got into trouble a little bit and worked his way out; he did do a good job of that and not give up the big innings. He's got a good arm but he needs to work some of the kinks out. He started slow for us last year."
Arkansas chased Troy starter Shane McCain (1-1) in the fourth inning. The freshman gave up 10 runs on eight hits and walked four batters.
Troy (3-3) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning for the second consecutive game, but Arkansas responded in the bottom half of the inning. Cox' two-RBI single plated Jarrod McKinney and Wilkins to give the Razorbacks a 2-1 lead. Cox finished the game with a career-high tying four RBIs.
"He's gotten some big hits for us," Van Horn said. "He got a bunch of big hits down the stretch last year and I think that's the type of player he is. He likes to be up when there are people on base. We've got some guys that do a pretty good job of driving in runs and we need to keep it up."
The two teams will play Sunday with the first pitch set for 1:05 p.m. Eibner (1-0) will get the start for the Razorbacks while right-hander Troy Dickinson (1-0) will be on the mound for Troy.
Arkansas 10, Troy 8
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